A Sikh with a trimmed beard

Sahajdhari Sikhs (literally "slow adopter"[1]) is a person who has chosen the path of Sikhism, but has not yet become an Amritdhari (an initiated Sikh initiated into the Khalsa).[2] A sahajdhari believes in all the tenets of Sikhism and the teachings of the Sikh Gurus,[3] but may or may not adorn the five symbols of the Sikh faith.[4][5] This is not to be confused with the term Mona Sikhs or Mona Sardars, that is Sikhs who are of Keshdhari ancestry, but choose to cut their hair, under certain circumstances, especially by deference to Western culture and fashions.

According to the Indian Government's Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Act (1971) and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the word Sahajdhari refers to a person born into a non-Sikh family: a person born in a Sikh family or a baptized Sikh cannot claim to be a Sahajdhari Sikh by giving up the five articles of faith; known as Patit Sikh (such as trimming hair).[1][6]

Sahajdhari Sikhs plan to get baptized sometime in their lives, and usually raise their children as full Sikhs, although many of them choose not to. The tribes that are mainly Sahajdharis include the Aroras, whereas the Keshdharis mainly belong to the Khatri tribes, who formed the majority of the Sikh population. Sahajdharis are essentially a non-monastic version of a monastic Sikh group called, the Udasis, who are also members of the Arora tribe. Udasis are Sahajdharis who choose their paths to live their lives as monks.

They Sehajdhari Sikhs are not allowed to vote in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee elections[7]


Sahajdhari is a compound of two words sahaj and dhari. In Sanskrit and other Indo-Aryan languages, the words Sahaj means: spiritual state of equilibrium and dhari means "adopter".[8][9]


A sahajdhari believes in all the tenets of Sikhism and the teaching of the Sikh Gurus but has not put all of them into practice.

The reasons can be many, including not being disciplined enough to maintain the Khalsa code of conduct or due to personal reasons of them not believing they have enough commitment to become a full Khalsa Sikh. In the Sikh community these reasons are considered valid, as to renege upon them or break the Khalsa code of conduct, once becoming a baptized Sikh Khalsa, is considered one of the greatest sins in Sikhism, so it is better not to commit (by not becoming a baptized Khalsa Sikh) rather than to fall short later. They may have aspirations of receiving the rites of Khalsa baptism one day and maintaining the Five Ks, nevertheless, the ultimate ideal which they must realize in their lifetime is to become a baptized Sikh – a Khalsa.

According to the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, the Sahajdharis are ones "who have expressed their desire to adopt Sikhism slowly and gradually, its doctrines, ethics and tenants (sic) with belief in Shri Guru Granth Sahib and the 10 Gurus".[1] SGPC adds that "A Sahajdhari Sikh is a person who performs ceremonies according to the Sikh rites; who does not use tobacco, kutha (halal meat) in any form, who is not a patit and who can recite mulmantra." SGPC also clarifies: "Once a Sahajdhari becomes a Keshdhari Sikh, he, under no circumstances by cutting or trimming hair, beard, eyebrows in any manner, can claim to be a Sahajdhari Sikh.

Five KsEdit

Kanga, Kara and Kirpan – three of the five articles of faith endowed to the Sikhs.
Most Sahajdhari Sikhs keep the Kara as one of their Five Ks[10]

The Five Ks, or panj kakaar/kakke, are five items of faith that all baptized Sikhs (Khalsa) are required to wear at all times (but does not apply to non-baptized Sikhs), at the command of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh who so ordered at the Baisakhi Amrit Sanskar in 1699. They are:

They are for identification and representation of the ideals of Sikhism, such as honesty, equality, fidelity, meditating on God, and never bowing to tyranny.[11]

Sahajdhari means Sikhs who are slowly learning and adopting the Sikh religion. It was a term used specifically to describe Hindus who were adopting Sikh beliefs, but still followed, or were reluctant to give up, Hindu beliefs and practices. It is a mobile process, not a static process, as some would believe. Sahajdhari Sikhs are expected to keep all the outer articles of the prescribed faith at some stage. Wearing of all five Ks only applies to initiated Sikhs. Indeed, most Sahajdhari start by keeping one of the five Ks (most wear the Kara, and gradually progress to wearing more of them).[10] Sahajdhari Sikhs is a process towards attaining Sikhi.

The consumption of intoxicating substances such as liquor, and the usage of drugs such as tobacco, were forbidden by the Guru and any person indulging in this cannot be called a true Sikh.


In the early part of the eighteenth century when Sikhs suffered fierce persecution and when to be a Keshdhari, that is to bear Kesh or long hair, was to invite sure death, the udasis looked after their places of worship and protected the households and the kith and kin of those driven to seek safety in hill and jungle. Some even defied the persecutors and courted martyrdom as did the teenaged Haqiqat Rai, who was beheaded in public for his refusal to disown his Sikh belief and accept Islam. A leading Sahajdhari Sikh of that time was Kaura Mall, a minister to the Mughal governor of Lahore, Mu'in ul-Mulk (1748–53), who helped the Sikhs in diverse ways in those days of severe trial. He had so endeared himself to them that they called him Mittha (sweet, in Punjabi) Mall instead of Kaura (which, in Punjabi, means "bitter") Mall. Sikh tradition also recalls another Sahajdhari, Des Raj, of this period who was entrusted by the Khalsa with the task of having reconstructed the Harimandar, demolished by the Afghan invader, Ahmad Shah Durrani, in 1762. Dina Nath was Maharaja Ranjit Singh's finance minister. Bhai Vasti Ram, a learned man well versed in Sikh scriptures, enjoyed considerable influence at the court.

Sahajdhari is a term that has been now wrongly interpreted. have continued to participate in Sikh life right up to modern times and have associated themselves with Sikh institutions and organizations such as the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Chief Khalsa Diwan, Shiromani Akali Dal, and the All-India Sikh Students Federation. The Singh Sabhas used to have seats on their executive committees reserved for the Sahajdharis. Among their own societies, confined prior to the migrations of 1947, mainly to north-western India, were the Sahajdhari Committee of Multan, Guru Nanak Sahajdhari Diwan of Panja Sahib and Sri Guru Nanak Sahajdhari Jatha of Campbellpore. The Sahajdhari Diwan of Panja Sahib attained the status of their central forum. They as well had their annual conference which met for its first session on 13 April 1929 under the chairmanship of Sir Jogendra Singh who passed on the office to the famous Sikh scholar and savant, Bhai Kahn Singh. A Sahajdharis' conference formed part of the annual proceedings of the Sikh Educational Conference.

The Sahajdharis share with the main body of the Sikhs all of their religious and social customs and ceremonies and join their congregations in the gurdwaras. The population in the Punjab of Sahajdhari Sikhs (another name used is Sikh Nanakpanthis) according to 1891 Census was 397,000 (20% of the total Sikh population); according to 1901 Census, 297,000 (13% of the total Sikhs); according to 1911 Census, 451,000 (14.9% of the total Sikhs); according to 1921 Census, 229,000 (7% of the total Sikhs); according to 1931 Census, 282,000 (6.5% of the total Sikhs). Outside of the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province and Sindh had considerable Sahajdhari populations. Consequent upon the partition of India in 1947, Sahajdharis became widely dispersed in the country. Their India-wide forum was the Sarab Hind (All-India) Sahajdharis Conference which rotated from town to town for its annual sessions. Three of its presidents: Mahant Karam Chand, Bhai Sant Ram and Bhai Ram Lal Rahi eventually took the vows of Khalsa baptism, receiving respectively the names Gur Darshan Singh, Sant Ram Singh and Ram Lal Singh Rahi. Dr. Bhai Harbans Lal, the founding Executive Vice President, of Sarab Hind (All-India) Sahajdharis Conference was recognized with "Nishan-e-Khalsa" award by Anandpur Foundation at the Tercentennial Celebration of Khalsa in 1999.

Notable Sahajdharis of todayEdit

  • Dr. Bhai Harbans Lal- The founding Executive Vice President, of Sarab Hind (All-India) Sahajdharis Conference was recognized with "Nishan-e-Khalsa" award by Anadpur Foundation at the Tercentennial Celebration of Khalsa in 1999.[12]
  • Jinder Mahal- Indian Canadian pro-wrestler currently being employed by the WWE

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c SGPC: Sahajdhari is one who gradually adopts doctrines of Sikhism
  2. ^ "Non-baptised Sikhs oppose Bill seeking to exclude them from key community poll".
  3. ^ Understanding Sikhism (The Gospel of the Gurus) - Who is a Sikh?
  4. ^ Diane P. Mines; Sarah Lamb (2002). Everyday Life in South Asia. Indiana University Press. p. 424. ISBN 978-0-253-21521-5. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Nearly 10 million Sikhs have lost their religion because of this organisation".
  6. ^ Opinderjit Kaur Takhar (2005). Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups Among Sikhs. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7546-5202-1. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  7. ^ Nibber, Gurpreet Singh. "HT Explainer: What's behind excluding Sehajdharis from Sikh body polls?" (16 April 2016). Hindustan Times.
  8. ^ Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier
  9. ^ Sikh Review Archived 4 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b Understanding Sikhism (The Gospel of the Gurus) – Who is a Sikh?
  11. ^ Eleanor Nesbitt, "Sikhism: a very short introduction", ISBN 0-19-280601-7, Oxford University Press, pp. 40–43
  12. ^ Singh, Baldev. "A Critical Appraisal of Bhai Harbans Lal's Writings on Sikhism". Archived from the original on 1 April 2010.

Further readingEdit

  • Kirpal Singh and Harbans Lal of Global Sikh Studies
  • Concepts In Sikhism, Edited by Dr. Surinder Singh Sodhi
  • SIKH IDENTITY: Continuity and Change, Eds. Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier, Manohar Publications, New Delhi

External linksEdit